How Does Your Organization Murder Innovation?

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Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

If there is one common thread that weaves together my experience in the field of innovation over the last decade, it is how frustrated people are about how their organizations kill innovation.

Innovation murder doesn’t happen on purpose. Typically the perpetrators believe they are helping innovation, not hindering it. They are innocent in spirit, if not in action.

The three most common methods I see are:

  1. Starvation, which happens when good ideas are put on hold until the organization is ready for them, (read: never);
  2. Strangulation, which occurs when good ideas are subjected to greater and greater levels of scrutiny that gradually squeezes all of the life out of them. Strangulation is often referred to by a more friendly name like “Stage Gate” or the “Innovation Funnel”; and
  3. Siblicide, which occurs when an older, more mature idea takes all of the attention away from a new idea which eventually dies of neglect. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that are sitting on billion dollar ideas that never make it to market because all of their time and energy is dedicated to serving another idea whose biggest virtue is that it is further down the path.

So ask yourself…have you helped to murder innovation? You have. We all have. It’s okay to admit it. You didn’t mean to. It was an accident. And I’m not going to stand on a soapbox and tell you have to stop doing it, but I am going to suggest that you acknowledge that you are doing it and not just pretend that it’s not happening because you’re just blindly following your organization’s adopted innovation or budgetary process.

No one has to be an innovation murderer, but it often requires an “innovation world” mindset of courage, belief and determination to break the “operational world” cycle that many of our innovation or budgetary processes introduce. These aren’t always the qualities that an organization rewards in the short term, but they are required for those who want to create real change in the world and shift toward a better future for their organizations and themselves.

This post originally appeared on Medium on July 10, 2018.

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